When is the right time to prepare a Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney?

When is the right time to prepare a Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney?

We are often told by clients that they do not need a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) as they are in good health. In fact, it is worth considering preparing an LPA for health and welfare as soon as possible and while in good health.  

What is a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney?

A Health and Welfare LPA can be extremely useful in a situation where you have specific views about a certain type of medication or even resuscitation. We would recommend that you consider preparing a letter of wishes to sit alongside the LPA which sets out your views and wishes to be followed, should you be unable to make a decision for yourself. This could, for example, state such personal wishes such as:

  • where you would want to live should you need to move
  • the type of medication you wish to receive
  • the type of care you receive; and 
  • the type of accommodation you reside in.

Different circumstances require different decisions to be made. The Health and Welfare LPA can give the power for named individuals, known as attorneys, to make decisions about life sustaining treatment. A letter of wishes can provide further guidance, for example whether you wish to be resuscitated if the quality of life thereafter was to be minimal.

If medical professionals are aware that an LPA is in place, they may change their approach and would have to listen to the views of an attorney.

Financial Lasting Power of Attorney 

It is also worth considering preparing a financial LPA to cover your financial affairs. Again, we often hear clients saying there is no need to prepare an LPA as they are ‘OK’ at present. They say they may wait till they are aware they are losing capacity. Sadly it is often too late at that point to make an LPA as they may lack the required mental capacity to sign. It is far better to make LPAs at a time when you have no issues with capacity. 

With a financial LPA, your attorney can use the document and act on your behalf even when you still have your mental capacity. If your illness was physical rather than mental, or you were recovering from an operation, or even out of the country on holiday, your named attorneys could act on your behalf with your consent. The document can prove vital for the smooth running of financial affairs where someone finds themselves housebound or confined to a hospital bed following an operation. In this instance the LPA can be used by attorneys to pay bills and avoid any further problems at an already difficult time.

In short, the correct answer is that you should prepare a lasting power of attorney as soon as possible at a time when you are fully able to give instructions. We suggest to clients they view it as essential as making their Will.

For more information and to talk to one of our legal experts in our Private Client team.